Tuesday, June 23, 2009
So much for trying to get out to fish or try the new drift boat. It looks like most of the waters that hold trout from New Jersey, to the Catskills, and even up to the Adirondacks are way up or unfishable. I have been watching the flows on Delaware system and the West Branch of the Ausable (WBA). The West Branch, which was at 260 cfs when I fished it in the beginning of May, hit 6,000 cfs on June 20th, and today is running 4,350 cfs at Hale Eddy. The WBA is high and a bit dirty but there are Drakes around and recent reports of Coffin flies at night. That will probably be my next trip, hoping that maybe this weekend I can get up there.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tonight I was able to attend the last meeting of the year of the Trout Unlimited, Jersey Shore Chapter. It was held down at L&H Woods and Water in Wall. I met some of the members, had some pizza, and was able to cast for FFF Master Casting Instructor Jim Valle. Of course I was a little nervous demonstrating my home grown casting techniques of 18 years. After a few casts Jim was able to pick out some bad habits I had developed and in a few minutes was able to correct some things. I will most definitely be taking some private lessons with him in the near future.It was amazing to see and realize how many things I don't know about casting a fly rod.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Alright, this isn't the place where I will talk about products or services for free. If they want to advertise or be a sponsor, fine, BUT, and there's always a but. During our Willow weekend my brother Ryan used by Simms bootfoot waders that I bought a few years ago. Anyway, while he used them left sole fell off. No big deal. I sent it via the USPS figuring they would charge me whatever for the repair. Well today I got a call from the lovely Renee who told me the repair techs looked at it and decided they'll REPLACE IT. And that they'll REPLACE IT with Headwaters waders with the
Muck boot foot. That's about $ 400.00. For that I am grateful, very grateful. And I am a Simms wader user. I currently use the Guide waders with the stocking foot boots. The news ones will be for the beaches and jetties. Thanks Simms!!
After I got home from the SBR I had a few hours before I had to take care of some business, so I decided to give the drift boat a look over. There was water in the tubes inside the pontoons so I broke them down and got the water out and cleaned them with soap and water. Inflating the pontoons isn't that bad, the pump is dual action, so the air goes in when the plunger goes up or down. So I got it all together and it looks good, for sitting in a driveway! But I think the maiden voyage will be this weekend on fathers day. I am taking my brother and the girls and the kids to Prospertown Lake for some fishing. " Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip..."
I was up early this morning and figured I head up to the South Branch of the Raritan to give it an early morning shot. I ran out of tapered leaders last week on the Flatbrook so I planned in making my first trip to Shannon's Flies in Califon and check it out. I got there about 6:40 but he doesn't open till 8, and after looking the river from the bridge in town it didn't seem to be worth the wait. The river was up and stained. I headed to the Ken Lockwood Gorge to see what that looked like. There was a bunch of guys in the water on the lower stretch so I made my way up to the bridge. I had about a 4x tippet on an old leader I found in the bed of my pickup so I used that. I tried a hares ear below and then above the bridge, I had two flashes at the artificials but no takers. While there I met a couple of guys and we talked about the KLG, past and present. They weren't top happy with the road replenishment project that was just starting. Years ago a flood knocked out the dirt road that paralleled the river, since then it's been blocked off to vehicle traffic. I knew something was up when I pulled up and saw the big
mounds of stone in the parking area. Allegedly, they are taking down trees in the parking area, putting down a gravel bed, and then paving the whole road along the river. These guys said the insects got much better when there was less traffic. A new macadam road won't help. It will increase water and dirt runoff, increase the silt build up and thus decreasing the insects, or they said. After a hour or so of fishing and shooting video I decided to make my way down to my favorite spot on the river. As usual I was the only one there. Here the river was up a bit and a little dirty. The birds were swooping down across the river taking caddis flies from the air. There must have been a half a dozen different caddis flies, in different sizes from 22's to 16's. I did find a lone isonychia- no doubt-because I bought it home and gave it the Caucci/Nastasi "Instant Mayfly Identification Guide" test. I usually carry it with me, but I'm always afraid I drop it in the drink and ruin it. Large hind wings, dark forelegs, pale middle and rear legs- isonychia! I am checking most of the bugs I find now because this is one area where I- 1) need improvement and 2) will really need to nail when I start guiding. I turned over some rocks and found some grannon larva in their neatly built chimney like houses. I fished for a bit with the hares ear and then switched to a sulfur emerger when I found that sulfurs, size 18's, were around. My first one I lost on a poorly tied 7x tippet section. Next time I just tied it into the 4x or whatever it was down to and gave that a shot. I had another strike and then a few minutes later I released a healthy 12 inch brown. The bite must have been on because his belly was full, you could run your finger along it and feel it's stomach contents inside. The only other thing to say about this day was, I broke my ass falling down a stone wall built along the bridge. I mistepped and fell from the top about 15 feet down, hitting every rock on every bone in my body. Luckily I didn't have rod it hand!
Friday, June 12, 2009
I realized some things the other day while fishing the Big Flatbrook. I have way to many flies, not the right ones, and, my fly boxes are a mess. Why do I carry Hendricksons, every which way, when the Hendricksons are long gone? I figure the next big hatches I will catch are the sulphurs and isonychias, but those flies are in a separate storage container. So I've decided to empty my fly boxes and separate them putting them into a bigger plastic box ? Basically I am looking to sort the flies by their hatch schedule and keep them there until I need them. I'll see if that works. Funny thing- at one point- I had a small pile of flies- most of them size 12-14- that I still don't know what they are, or why I bought them. But I do know, on that day, before that hatch, that's what I was told or thought was going to work.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
So I guess after my drift boat purchase I was motivated to visit a purchase I made in 2003. During a tumultuous year back then I made a quick emotional purchase. I bought a 20 foot 1986 Marathon cuddy cabin. I used it for a season docking it in the Tradewinds Marina on the Shrewsbury River in Sea Bright. We did some fishing, cruised the rivers, and always hated coming in and trying to get it in the slip. The wind blows one way, the current the other, it was always hard. So the boat has sat in the elements for since 2004, and it wasn't pretty. The wood had rotted, there was standing water, and the tires were flat. So today my first mate, Erin, and I took the tires off, cleaned them up, and put them back on. We emptied the tons of pine needles, dead mice, and acorns that filled the interior. Lastly, we pulled her up and gave her a much needed bath. Surprisingly she cleaned up nice. My father has a mechanic that works at the shop where the boat is sitting and he has experience with marine motors. He helped me today and pulled the battery and placed it on a slow charge. Hopefully a new battery won't be the first buttload of money I'll have to spend to get her sea worthy. Even though I am a diehard trout fisherman, it seems silly not to expand a little and start to learn fly fishing in the bays and ocean. So it's been a week of boats, and tires- with the van known as Bertha gettting new rims and tires all the way around. I found a guy looking to unload the rims and tires- all four 100 bucks. I switched them out and then the old pitted rims and balding tires to a local recycler, he gave me 32 dollars. So Bertha got new kicks for a whopping $ 68.00. We'll see if the boat tires hold air when I go back tomorrow!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
That was the question Tom asked me as he tried to focus on the large fish that swam in front of us in the Big Flatbrook. I could see a bit better then him as I was looking through my camera with a zoom lens with a polarizing filter attached. Throughout the day it was spotted throughout the pool, but it never seemed to be taking any insects. Judging by the other fish in the frame I'd say it's over 20 inches, maybe 22. It was a target to aim for. MORE TO FOLLOW
So I went and bought me a 2 person pontoon guide boat, well it's really for Cindy! I couldn't resist. After my latest trip to the West Branch of the Delaware when the river was running at over 2,000 cfs, I saw the need, well want, that I had. Not knowing pontoon boats, I gave my Dave Choinard down at The Tampa Angler the details for his opinion. At 630 am he wrote me back and gave me the thumbs up. So by 1030 it was loaded on the back of my pickup and heading to Nutley, where I was picking up Tom for a trip to the Big Flatbrook.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I recently looked at my fly rod that I use most of the time. It's the one Fran Betters made me a few years back. Funny thing is I never really paid attention to the size, it's a 4/5 weight 7'6" mid flex. No wonder I have such a hard time making long casts on the West Branch of the Delaware. Last weekend I spent some time at The Beaverkill Angler looking at the new Orvis Helios. Nice rods, nice and light, out of my price range. No fishing for me this weekend, it's been pouring the last few days, and now today it's bright sun and 150 degrees. I've just able to spend some time surfing the web. So I checked out Craigslist and searched New Jersey for fly rods. I found a woman in Matawan selling three Orvis rods, one a Clearwater, the second a Superfine 9' - 6 weight, and the last the 9' 5 weight. I picked up my reel at home and lugged Cindy and the kids up to check them out. After casting them all I decided to buy the 5 weight, for 100 bucks. Hoping to run up to Deposit tomorrow and hit the West Branch and use a new underwater housing I just bought for the Sony HDR SR-12 video camera.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Another day, another shower. After a day of dad duties and some office work I decided to head to the South Branch of the Raritan for a little evening fishing. Yesterday my trip started out heading to the Musconetcong but we abandoned it halfway there due to the rain. Well, today was more of the same. While stuck in Route 287 rush hour trafffic the heavens opened up. This time I continued west. I got there about 630 and it was raining lightly, the water was a bit up and slightly stained. Birds were swooping down over the river taking march browns and sulfurs. The fish were busy also. I tied on a new leader with a 7x tippet and put on a light cahill. After a few casts I caught a nice healthy 10' brown at the start of some fast water. While moving downstream I took the temperature of the water, 62 degrees. One of my casts was into the trees, but I still had my fly. Fish were working steady taking duns off the water and emergers in the faster water. The next fish I got destroyed the fly, so I went with a size 18 light hendrickson emerger. That was the fly of the evening. Cross current cast, proper drift, raise the rod at the end with a slow strip. Bam after bam. The birds were busier over the riffles so I worked there for awhile but had no takes, and didn't see any fish working. As the light disappeared I headed back up to the slower, wider water. The area where I had just caught a half dozen fish was alive again. I changed flies and went with a march brown wet. Same presentation, same results. They couldn't resist once that rod tip was slowly raised. I caught a bunch more until 830, then it got dark. I lost my way for a minute and paid for it by putting it in the tree behind me and then knotting it all up pulling it free. I tried to get the knots out to no avail. I cut my 7x tippet down to about a 4x and scrambled to get another emerger on. Forget it. I couldn't see it yet alone thread it. Shame on me, I always carry a light. There was enough light to see the fish turn it up a notch but not enough to continue fishing. Anyway, nice night, glad I came. Landed about 10 fish, one maybe 13 inches, missed about a half a dozen. Another lesson learned. If you're going out on the river after 6, make sure you bring a light!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
So after early morning school dropoffs my new fishing partner, Erin, who's been fly fishing for, say, two weeks, and I packed up and headed out to fish the Musconetcong. In doing this I would have had to blow off her swimming lesson at the local YMCA. As we approached the Driscoll Bridge on the Garden State Parkway it started to rain. A quick glance over to the western skies showed an ominous dark cloud filled sky. So we decided to put a fork in the trip out west and headed to the y for swimming. After the lesson we headed outside to nearly 80 degree temps and a blue sky. We stopped at home and made the switch from a 5 weight rod for trout to a 9 weight outfit for stripers and blues. I decided we'd hit Sandy Hook to see if any fish were in the surf. After a quick picnic, we headed out over the sand and picked a spot where people were fishing with clams and bunker. It has been a long while since I opened my fly wallet and put together my 9 weight Orvis rod. It was a beautiful day on the hook. The ocean side was clear and flat, with hardly any wind. There weren't any birds or fish in sight. I didn't even bother to tie on a fly, but I some time practicing my cast. I handed the rod over to Erin who practiced
stripping in some line. Luckily a couple next to us landed a 7.5 pound bluefish who took the front end a bunker. Erin was amazed and couldn't figure out why they just left the fish to flop
on the beach. She mustered up enough courage to touch it's tail and asked about the gills on the fish. It was fun. They also caught a spider crab that we checked for a bit before throwing back into the surf. This is a fishery I must start to investigate regularly. Even though I am a devout trout fisherman, the opportunity to catch big fish on a fly rod in my back yard shouldn't be wasted. I am only a few miles from the ocean, and it's easy enough to just take a quick drive down to see what's happening. Really, the first read is the parking lots, if there're full, then there's fish. So today I continued "guiding" my three year old in fly fishing in New Jersey, I guess she's my first client. After a few pics we headed out, surely to return.